Portugal slumped to an embarrassing 1-0 defeat at home to Albania in their opening Euro 2016 qualifier as any hopes of bouncing back from a miserable World Cup were shattered. A stunning volley from Bekim Balaj early in the second half decided the match, with the hosts, without the rested Cristiano Ronaldo, unable to muster a response. The Portuguese crashed out in the group stages in Brazil and this was another setback for a team which still included a host of household names. The home side started on top and Nani was at the heart of much of their most promising moments early on, whipping in a dangerous free-kick which Etrit Berisha punched away and then firing wide from inside the area. The winger, on loan at Sporting Lisbon from Manchester United, then swung in a cross for Antonio Eder, whose header was off target. Vieirinha got his head to a Joao Moutinho free-kick, but the attempt was easy for Berisha. Nani created another opening on the stroke of half-time, but Pepe header his cross from the right wide. The home fans were silenced by a moment of magic seven minutes into the second half. Odise Roshi swung in a cross from the right which was behind Balaj, but on the turn he managed to get his foot to the ball and rifle a right-footed volley into the bottom corner from 15 yards. Ricardo Horta fired against a post as Portugal sought a leveller and Nani headed over from close range. Fabio Coentrao had a shot fumbled by Berisha, who also tipped over a shot from Andre Gomes, but there was no way through for Portugal as Albania sealed a shock win.
World Cup 2018